What You Need to Know About the Big FAFSA Changes

For the 2017-2018 FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), students should be aware of two significant changes in the application process that will affect them starting in 2016.

1. You can submit FAFSA earlier

Whereas previously the open application period began at the start of January, you can now submit applications even earlier, beginning October. So if you plan to attend college between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018, you may apply for FAFSA any time between October 1, 2016 and June 30, 2018.

2. You will apply using the previous year’s tax information

To apply for FAFSA, you will not report income information from the previous year like you used to. Now, you need to use the year before last — so for the 2017-2018 FAFSA, you’ll report on your 2015 income. It does not matter if your income situation has changed significantly since then.

See the helpful chart below courtesy of the official studentaid.ed.gov website and find more answers to frequently asked questions.

IF YOU PLAN TO ATTEND COLLEGE FROM YOU WILL SUBMIT THIS FAFSA YOU CAN SUBMIT THE FAFSA FROM USING INCOME AND TAX INFORMATION FROM

JULY 1, 2015 – JUNE 30, 2016

2015–16

JANUARY 1, 2015 – JUNE 30, 2016

2014

JULY 1, 2016 – JUNE 30, 2017

2016–17

JANUARY 1, 2016 – JUNE 30, 2017

2015

JULY 1, 2017 – JUNE 30, 2018

2017–18

OCTOBER 1, 2016 – JUNE 30, 2018

2015

JULY 1, 2018 – JUNE 30, 2019

2018–19

OCTOBER 1, 2017 – JUNE 30, 2019

2016

 

How the Changes Benefit You

  • Because you will use older income information to complete the FAFSA, you won’t have to make income estimations or update your FAFSA after filing that year’s taxes.
  • Being able to apply 3 months earlier than before will give you more time to prepare and to understand the financial aid options available to you.

Need More Information?

Visit StudentAid.gov/fafsa/filling-out; and remember, as you fill out your FAFSA at fafsa.gov, you can refer to help text for every question and (during certain times of day) chat online with a customer service representative.

Also check out 8 Essential Facts You Need to Know About FAFSA.

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